Hair affair comes to a head as boys opt to bare all

Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth
Picture: Google Maps

A group of Pearson High School boys who are all cut up over what they claim are overly stringent new hair-length rules, arrived at school with shaved heads yesterday, triggering a social media flurry.

In response to cautions from new deputy principal Pieter Rademeyer, about 20 boys arrived at the grounds with heads shaved clean while others vowed to do the same on Monday or to not cut their hair at all.

This follows the first “neatness inspection” of the year on Thursday when boys from all grades gathered in the school hall, with only about 10% of matric pupils passing the inspection.

A Grade 12 pupil, who wished to remain anonymous, said one of the main reasons given for what he called “unreasonable” hair length instructions, was due to their hair falling into their eyes while playing sport.

“The whole thing started off when hectic hair inspections were implemented.

“One of the biggest things at our school is to be neat and we do really care about our whole image, but when it got to a point where boys who already had short hair were told to cut it even shorter, people started getting upset.

“The problem is, some people have naturally thick hair. It might look long but it is already so short – and they were being told if their hair is not short by Monday, we will have detention,” he said.

The pupil added that if there was a clear, standard hairstyle for everyone, then it would make it fair.

A Grade 9 boy, with curly hair that was out of his face, said he could understand both sides to the issue.

“On the one hand I agree with the rule because some people do have ridiculously long hairstyles, but on the other hand forcing us to cut it that short is unreasonable. I don’t get it, because some of us have short hair already that causes no distractions.

“Some of us do look neat but now we still have to cut our hair even shorter,” he said. Rademeyer dismissed claims that the majority of the school’s boys felt the inspection was too harsh.

He said it was only a small group of individuals who acted defiantly and caused an uproar on social media.

“The inspection was nothing out of the ordinary. We explained a number of issues of concern with them, of which one was the hair issue.

“We pride ourselves on appearance and being neat,” he said.

Rademeyer said one of the main reasons for instructing the boys to cut their hair short was because when they played sport it looked untidy.

“We want our kids to look neat in the class and on the sports field.

“We felt we were being lenient still with this request.”

A Grade 10 boy, who also wished to remain anonymous, said he had no issue with the inspection.

“We normally have these inspections and I don’t think it was out of the ordinary because we should uphold the school’s image.”

Rademeyer added: “There is a specific group of boys who acted out against our instruction in anger and who started [circulating] memes, which we do not condone.”

Memes parodying the issue – some of which featured an image of Rademeyer – were doing the rounds yesterday.

“I do not appreciate individuals creating hype on social media – we would rather have them come and discuss these matters with us because we have an open-door policy,” he said.

Principal Hela Roux – in conjunction with other heads of grade – has been conducting similar talks with the school’s girls.

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